Oct. 14, 2011
ARLINGTON, Tex. - When UT Arlington travels to Nacogdoches on Saturday, Stephen F. Austin will see a new face at setter.
"She's played very well. I don't think people fully realize how difficult the setter position is," Clute said. "She's the youngest on the floor, and has been asked to do so many things. The setter touches the ball every time it crosses the net, and that's a big role to play for somebody so new to the college game. I think she's earned the respect of her teammates."
Welsh has started every set for the Mavericks this season. She is averaging 9.09 assists per set, and is coming off a career-high eight digs against Sam Houston State.
Welsh said she has had great coaches during her entire career, but the seniors at UT Arlington have helped her adjust to the college game.
"The girls have definitely been a huge help and made the transition to college volleyball easier," Welsh said. "Most people have somebody older they can learn from, but I don't have that since I'm the only setter on the roster. They're always there to help out and keep pushing me to do the things that I need to be doing."
Welsh started playing volleyball at 8 years old when she was bored at school and wanted something to do. She played on numerous private teams and eventually led Austin Westlake to two top-five finishes in the State tournament.
That winning background led her to the Mavericks. Welsh said the competitive background has helped her adjust to college volleyball, but it's still a different animal than high school.
"You have to have more mental focus in college," Welsh said. "The level of competition is a step higher, and everybody in college is good. You have to be on your A-game. The ball speed is a lot faster, and everything just takes a step up."
Coach Clute believes Welsh has a bright future with the Mavericks.
"She's very competitive. A lot of people don't realize that because she's younger than everybody," Clute said. "But she is very competitive, and also very giving. She just wants to do well for her teammates at all times, and those are great qualities as a setter."
The Mavericks (7-14, 3-4 SLC) went 1-1 against Stephen F. Austin (10-12, 3-5 SLC) last season, including a five set comeback win in Nacogdoches.
First serve is set for 1 p.m.